REPORT: IDP Children Astronomy Outreach Project & COVID-19 Support for IDP’s

Because of ethno-religious conflicts and terrorism, Nigeria has over 2 million internally displaced persons (IDP’s), 80% of which are women and children according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 42% of the internally displaced persons live in camps and camp like settings, while 58% live in host communities. One common result of this displacement is that it affects the education and mental health of the children displaced. In a lot of cases, the children drop out of school. This has resulted to an increase in the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria to 13.2 million children. This problem breeds grounds for inequality, illiteracy, peace & security problems and other developmental challenges for the future of the IDP children. As displaced children, they face an uncertain future, where it may be difficult to compete with their mates in other stable region in terms of education. Some of the children deal with psychological trauma and hopelessness as a result of their experiences during the conflicts.

According to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian affairs, there are 2375 locations, where internally displaced persons live. These sites include 293 camps and camp-like settings, and 2082 locations where IDP’s reside with host communities. These camps and host communities are mostly in the northeastern region of Nigeria including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states. There are other locations in the middle belt of Nigeria. For example, in the Federal Capital Territory, there are 26,460 internally displaced persons living in 41 settlement camps. There are others in Kogi, Kaduna, Benue, Nassarawa and Plateau states.

This project works to address these issues by setting up solar powered learning hubs in their camps and locations, as well as, use seasoned counsellors to conduct Cognitive Behavioural Therapy assessment on the IDP children. The assessments help to determine the state of their mental health. We partner with other organizations to ensure that those that need further help get the desired attention & care. The main objective of this project is to use astronomy as a tool to counsel, heal and inspire traumatized children that have been displaced due to conflicts in Nigeria. This project employs an interdisciplinary approach to achieve its objectives. Teams of counsellors conduct Cognitive Behavioural Therapy assessment on the children to ascertain the state of their mental health. The data gotten from the assessment helps the project team refer the children for the required mental health care. The IDP’s are located in remote locations mostly without electricity, therefore, a team of engineers’ set-up a solar-powered learning hub to serve as one of the deliverables of the project. The solar-powered learning hub comprises of solar-panels, inverter&batteries, Smart screen, HD-drive, Internet router and charging ports, all in a refurbished 40ft-shipping container. The solar powered learning hub is for the children to have access to learning material, and for the project team to engage the children remotely. Other project team members serve as science- communicators who are passionate about making tangible impacts using science. As their needs go beyond all these, the project makes provision of relief materials for the IDP’s. This project is an IAU/OAD funded project in its second round of funding for execution on a different IDP camp.

Interior of the shipping container before refurbishment
Interior of the shipping container before refurbishment
Interior of shipping container before refurbishment 2
Interior of shipping container before refurbishment 2

Data retrieved from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) assessments on IDP children at an IDP camp in Durunmi in North-Central Nigeria shows that 67% of the children had mild to severe depression; 55% had mild to severe anxiety disorders; 51% had mild to severe stress conditions. 27 girls reported cases of sexual abuse confidentially to the counsellors. The number of children examined was 250 boys and 250 girls. The data has been shared with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian affairs for further action and engagement with the appropriate authorities. The learning hub has been very effective in bringing an affinity for science to the children. We monitor their progress by periodic testing and the results have been encouraging. From our last session in February, before the general lockdown of the country, the counsellor recorded 12% reduction in cases with anxiety, stress and depression from a sample size of 45 children.

Our approach employs an interdisciplinary approach to be able to meet our objective of counseling, healing and inspiring the IDP children beyond their current predicament. The reason for an interdisciplinary approach is to deal with the situation of the IDP children holistically, because their needs go beyond Education alone. As a project team, we envision our roles as science communicators as influential agents in the society we find ourselves in. But not just any science communicator: as astronomy science communicators. Astronomy is indeed a unique science with the advantage of giving us a sense of place, a sense of scale, a sense of wonder. Astronomy helps us rise beyond ourselves and look at our planet for what it truly is: borderless and unique. So, as astronomy communicators, we have the vital role of reaching out to the public to start a movement for tolerance, peace and critical thinking. Also, this project uses indigenous language to teach STEM and also for counseling.

Refurbished interior of shipping container
Refurbished interior of shipping container
Refurbished shipping container, now solar powered learning hub
Refurbished shipping container, now solar powered learning hub

In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of great necessity that we provide support for the IDP’s. There is an apparent danger should an index case arise in the IDP camp because of the overcrowded living conditions in the camp. We plan to build hand washing points, distribute face masks, sanitizers, relief materials and posters that highlight the dangers of the COVID-19 virus. We will use this opportunity to install a desktop PC and provide android tablets for the IDP children, which came as extra support from the Office of Astronomy for Development. The Office of Astronomy for Development has supported this initiative with 20000 ZAR and we will be looking to raise funds to cover for all the objectives that we hope to achieve. Please support us with donations to the following account:

BENEFICIARY NAME: Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria Network

BENEFICIARY ACCOUNT NUMBER: 2123870665

SWIFT CODE: UNAFNGLA

BANK: United Bank for Africa Plc, Nigeria

THROUGH: CITIBANK NEW YORK, SWIFT CODE: CITIUS33, ROUTING NO: 021000089, ACCOUNT NUMBER: 36320321

Fundraiser for COVID-19 support for IDP's
Fundraiser for COVID-19 support for IDP’s

As an organization, our main objective is to spread astronomy and its benefits throughout Nigeria. The vision for this project is to have learning hubs installed in all IDP locations. The predicament of the IDP’s has a potential to affect their all-round development. This project will give the IDP’s the ability to dream and to be able to compete with their mates in other stable regions of the country. Establishing learning hubs in their camps and supporting them with psycho-social therapy will go a long way in helping the IDP’s to move away from seeking aids, rather to be stakeholders in the development of their society. This will also help in alleviating the number of out of school children in Nigeria. That number stands at 13.2 million today. This project also helps to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and critical thinking.

Astro Art Contest (Deadline: August 15, 2020)

Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) Nigeria presents the maiden Edition of the Astro Art Contest for Elementary and High School kids in Nigeria.
The contest provides opportunities for kids aged 7-17 years in Nigeria to express their *Imaginations* of Outer Space in paintings!
The call for entries is now open!
The star prizes in this contest are SSVI homemade telescopes (Newton, refractor, two small spectroscopes). Other available prizes include Tablets, Solar glasses, Astronomy Hands on activities kits, NASA and OAD branded bags, AWB branded T-Shirts, among others.
For entries submission, painting should be done on an A4 sized paper accompanied with a short write up (not more than 150 words) describing the art work to be uploaded using the link:
Deadline is 15th August, 2020.

Annular Solar Eclipse on June 21, 2020. What Holds for Africa?

On the 21st of this month of June, our planet Earth will witness the 3rd out of six (6) rounds of eclipses scheduled for the year 2020. The first two eclipses were lunar eclipses which occurred on January 10th and June 5th. They were both observed from Africa. The forthcoming will be a solar eclipse. The remaining three (3) will be: July 5th Lunar eclipse, November 30 Lunar eclipse and December 14 Solar eclipse.

WHAT IS A SOLAR ECLIPSE?

This occurs when the moon comes between the Sun and the Earth in such a way they become so aligned or almost aligned in a straight form.  This results in some parts of  the Earth to be partially of totally obscured from the rays of sunlight. Solar eclipses can as well be called “eclipse of the Sun” and it should be noted that it happens during new moon but not during all new moon.

Image showing during solar eclipse, the moon is between Earth and the Sun. Image credit: NASA

There are three (3) but four (4) types of solar eclipses:
Partial
Total
Annular
Hybrid

Image credit: national eclipse. com

Partial solar eclipse is the most recurring and can  be seen alongside with each of the aforementioned three. It can occur alone. In such case there is no perfect alignment, so Earth transits along the  diffuse shadow  of the moon called the penumbra

Image showing what a partial solar eclipse typically looks like.
Image credit: Himal Bhandari from Nepal

Total solar eclipse is the most thrilling of all the solar eclipses. It occurs when the moon is in a perfect alignment and at its perigee to Earth. As a result of that, the Sun’s disk becomes completely blocked. Regions under the Umbra of the shadow of the moon experience total darkness, and as indicated earlier, regions of the world not under the umbra experiences partial solar eclipse (that is, penumbra). To have the best view of the Sun’s Corona, it is during total solar eclipse. It is not only the best but the only moment to do so. Note: Total solar eclipse occurs ones in every two years somewhere on Earth but any region of the Earth that has ever experienced it will encounter it again in the next 400 years counting from the year in occurred last there.

Portions which fall under the umbra experiences total solar eclipse while parts which fall under the penumbra experiences partial solar eclipses.
Image credit: TimeAndDate.com
What total solar eclipse really looks like. Those white in the background are the Sun Corona.
Image credit: NASA

Annular solar eclipse is the second most spectacular after the total solar eclipse and second most frequent after partial solar eclipse. Like total solar eclipse, it occurs when the moon is on a perfect alignment, but this moment at Apogee. As a result of that, the Sun’s disk is not completely submerged by the moon’s disk. So regions that fall under the Antumbra see a ring of fire called Annualus in Greek while the region which fall under the penumbra see a Partial solar eclipse.

                                                   Image credit: In-The-Sky.com
                                                                 Image credit: NASA

Hybrid Solar Eclipses for a given solar eclipse is the case where by some parts of the Earth perceives it as a total solar eclipse and other perceives it as an annular solar eclipse. This is as a result of the geometry of Earth. It is also called
Annular/Total solar eclipses. This kind of eclipse is the rarest of all. The last time such was experienced was on November 3, 2013.

                                                      Image credit: TimeAndDate.com

On June 21 of this year, we will experience Annual solar eclipse across some parts of: Africa, South – East Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

Regions of the African continent that will come under path of Annularity are: Republic of Congo
Democratic republic of Congo. Central Africa republic
South Sudan
Sudan
Ethiopia
Eritrea
and Into the red sea and beyond.

Nearby countries to these aforementioned ones will experience ONLY partial solar eclipse (penumbra). Every other person can stream it live from this link.

Starting from the Republic of Congo, it will kickoff as a partial solar eclipse at 4:46 a.m (GMT + 1) and then Annular by 5:47 a.m (GMT + 1) an will then move to the East according as depicted on the map below.

                                                                 Path of Annularity
Image credit: national eclipse. com

So if you are in or around these mapped locations and you do want to witness this event, you have to be on the guide from 04:46 a.m (GMT + 1), because  for a given point it will last for less than 3 minutes. the whole event from Africa to Asia, from Penumbra to Annular and back to penumbra will last for 5hrs, 38 minutes.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

It is very dangerous to look at the sun with your naked eyes, binoculars or telescope. This Handbook and Posters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) designed by the African Astronomical Society explains all about the eclipse and how to see it. A free android app on the eclipse has been developed by Alok Mandavgane for the Astronomical Society of India, and adapted for Africa.

 

Wishing you all a clear skies on June 21st

A Potentially Hazardous Asteroid To Make A Flyby On Saturday (June 6) Morning.

Following the news about the transit of Asteroid 1998 OR2 on April 29, 2020. Another Asteroid dubbed Asteroid 2002 NN4 is set to make a flyby in the early morning hours of Saturday by these times according to the six (6) time zones in Africa:

GMT – 1 =  2:20 am
GMT + 0 = 3:20 am
GMT + 1=  4:20 am
GMT + 2 = 5:20 am
GMT + 3=  6:20 am
GMT + 4 = 7:20 am

 

Map showing the different time zones in Africa. Image Credit: TimeTemperature.com

 

Just as the name implies, Asteroid 2002 NN4 was discovered on July 9, 2002.
Compared to Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 is lesser in size, its diameter measured as at range of 254 meters to 568 meters according to SpaceReference.org This is roughly comparable to the size of a football stadium.

More so, according to NASA’s JPL, like Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 is also classified as potentially hazardous. Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) are the ones whose orbits come closer to Earth at a distance less than or equal to 7.5 million kilometers.
Asteroid 2002 NN4 will pass at a safe distance of approximately 5.1 million kilometers, which is about more than 13 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

 

Image showing Earth’s orbit round the sun. Image credit: SpaceReference.org
                        Image showing the orbits of Asteroid 2020 NN4 and Earth.
                                              Image credit: SpaceReference.org
To play around with the orbit simulation, click here.

Generally, Both Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 and 1,679 other Asteroids  are  grouped under a certain  category called Aten-Class or Apollo Asteroids. These are group of Asteroids whose orbital paths bring them in close proximity to Earth.

                                                    Image credit: Wikipedia
Lan O’Neill of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: “In short, 2002 NN4 is a very well-known asteroid with a known orbit that will pass Earth at a (very) safe distance.”

The Asteroid makes a complete revolution about the sun within 300 days. It spins about its axis every 14 days 30 minutes.

Since the transit of Asteroid 2002 NN4 is slated for Saturday morning, Stars gazers around Africa maybe able to spot it using their backyard telescopes. It can also be viewed via various NASA channels or agencies serving the same purpose.

Lunar Eclipse + Strawberry Full Moon. What Holds For Africa.

Every year, our planet Earth is capable of experiencing  four (4) to seven (7) eclipses.
But this year 2020, we will experience only six (6) of them: four (4) lunar and two (2) solar eclipses.
We have already witnessed a penumbra lunar eclipse earlier this year on January 10.
This June month alone, we will experience two (2) of them, each of solar and lunar.
The lunar eclipse will occur on June 5th and the solar eclipse, on 21st.

Lunar eclipse occurs when Earth comes between the sun and the moon and its shadow falls on the moon.

There are three (3) different kinds of Lunar eclipse:

The total
The partial
The Penumbra lunar eclipse.

 

                Image showing how the different kinds of Lunar eclipses look like.
Image credit: Earthsky
                                                                    Image credit: Time and Date

During the total lunar eclipse, the three: Sun, Earth (at middle) and moon are on a straight line.
Here, the moon is completely submerged into the umbral of the Earth and we observe the red moon. This kind is the most impressive of all. And can be seen by everyone. The last time we witnessed this was on January 20/21, 2019.

Images showing how the moon is wholly within the umbral of Earth during total Lunar eclipse.
Image credit: Mocomi
                                                 The red Moon.Image credit: NASA

For partial lunar eclipse, with Earth still in between the Sun and the  moon but do not form a straight line, what is observed is a small part of the moon covered by the umbral of the Earth. It is the second most impressive and the last time such occurred was on July 16, 2019.

Image shows part of the moon covered by the umbral of Earth.
Image credit: Mocomi
Part of the lit side of the moon is covered by the umbral of Earth.
Image credit: Time and Date

Penumbra lunar eclipse is the one in which the Moon crosses the Earth’s diffuse shadow and it does not appear red. In fact, it is hardly noticed and it looks pretty much like a normal full moon. A slight dimming of the lunar disk is usually observed. This is the one that we are expecting on June 5th, 2020.

How a penumbra lunar eclipse looks like.
Image credit: Earthsky
Image showing the start, maximum and end of penumbra lunar eclipse. image credit: Hong Kong Observatory

What is general for all kinds of lunar eclipses is that they do not require any aid for use to be able to observe them.

So, starting from June 4th till 6th, there will be a full moon. During these periods, will lie behind the moon, is a  red supergiant star by name Antares. Which is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion.

Image credit: nemesis maturity

But the  real event  starts on the 5th. Regions such as: Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa are the ones that will be privileged to witness it.

Image credit: Space.com

This Penumbra lunar eclipse is expected to last for three (3) hours, eighteen (18) minutes.
The time from start to end for the six (6) time zones across Africa are below:
\

Image showing the six time zones in Africa. Red corresponds to GMT – 1 and Black corresponds to GMT + 4. Image credit: TimeTemperature.com
Table showing the start, maximum and end of the lunar eclipse for the six time zones of Africa. image credit: AWbNigeria

Why was it called “Strawberry Full moon?”

Like every other cultures in the world has a name and meaning they call each full moon of any given month. The name “strawberry moon” dates back to the native Americans. June was that period of the year for harvesting strawberries. On the other hand, strawberries are not native to the Europeans, so they call theirs, “Rose moon”

Hence, we call it Strawberry full moon or Rose full moon.

As you go outside to observe the lunar eclipse + full moon, I wish you a clear night sky.

Lunar Eclipse event/Mars Opposition

We had the opportunity to experience the Total Lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27, 2018. The event held at Jabi Lake Park in Abuja, Nigeria. It was interesting to see Mars at its closest to Earth in 15 years. There was heavy rainfall earlier in the day and the skies remained cloudy for the whole day. This had a negative impact on our viewing but, we had a glimpse of the eclipse for about 5 minutes till the clouds covered the moon.

Jupiter, Venus and Mars appeared brightly on our horizon per time before cloud cover took its toll. We had several visitors and enthusiasts that came over and learned about the Lunar eclipse and Mars opposition. Some of them indicated keen interest in joining our team. One People, One Sky.

Star Party (April 21, 2018)

As part of the activities of the Global Astronomy Month, AWBNigeria joined other Teams around the world to have a Star Party in the evening of April 21, 2018. The event held at the ever busy Jabi Lake Park in Jabi, Abuja.

The weather was kind to us on the day because we have been experiencing cloudy weather for most periods in this month. The moon came out for the Party as well. Venus was on our horizon. The brightest stars were Venus, Spica, Sirius, Canopus, Atria, Acrux and Rigel Kentaurus. We educated a lot of interested passer by’s about Stars, Astronomy, Our goals and activities and entertained their questions. We had a celebrity guest present at the Star Party, Rear Admiral Isaac, the former Defense Space Administrator. He was actively involved as he shared his wealth of knowledge about how to use stars for navigation.

Our Vixen Telescope was the star of the day as usual. It presented us with clear visuals of the Moon, Venus and the other stars. Below is the gallery showing the activities at the Star Party.

International AstroPoetry Contest for GAM2018

Entries are open for poems written in English Language for Global Astronomy Month 2018 AstroPoetry Contest. Write your poem in Astronomy, Night sky or space-related subject. The contest rules are as follows:

  1. Poems must be written in English. Original poems written by contestants will be accepted. Please do not send poems copied from books, the internet, or previously published, in any form.
  2. Teachers, please review all of your students’ poems before submission
  3. Poems may be on any astronomy, night sky, or space related subject
  4. Poems may be in any style or form. It is preferred that they be less than 30 lines in length
  5. The contest winners will be chosen by an International panel of judges
  6. Closing date is 1 May, 2018
  7. Participation certificate will be provided by Universe Awareness Malaysia
  8. Please submit your full name on the form exactly as you would like to see your name displayed on a certificate, should you win. Winner certificate will be provided by Astronomers Without Borders
  9. Prizes- TBA
  10. Share a line of your poem with or without an image on Facebook or Twitter using #GAM2018 (@gam_awb) and #universeawarenessmalaysia
  11. Write your poem in the space given in the form below:

GAM 2018 Astropoetry entry link

Space Up Nigeria Event

Coming up April 28th, 2018 at University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria, SpaceUp Nigeria is a one-day space unconference about the space sector, where participants decide the topics, schedule, and structure of the event. Everyone who attends SpaceUp is encouraged to give a talk, moderate a panel, or start a discussion. Sessions are proposed and scheduled on the day they’re given, which means the usual hallway conversations turn into full-fledged topics.

At SpaceUp, you will meet fellow space enthusiasts and hear from expert panelists

As in any SpaceUp event, you are also encouraged to give a presentation! We welcome the views and opinions from all participants. It’s not as scary as it might sound. Sessions at SpaceUp are conversations, just like every conversation you’ve had (or wanted to have) at any other conference. The only difference is that the sessions are planned on the spot, which means we’re sure to be talking about topics we find interesting.

Sign up here